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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Capitals, Saturday December 18th

Two struggling squads will skate at TD Garden tonight, with the Bruins (16-10-4) hosting the Washington Capitals (18-11-4).

The Caps have been the clear powerhouse of the Southeast Conference for a few seasons running now, but with their losing streak at a season-long seven games, Washington’s division lead is down to just a single point over second place Atlanta, and two over third place Tampa Bay.

Boston had their chance to climb the ranks and earn a share of the Northeast Division lead when they faced off with Montreal on Thursday evening, but falling 4-3 to the Habs sent the B’s falling further in the standings, now four points out of the division’s top spot.

Both teams come into tonight’s contest looking to get a much-needed two points added to their standing. Here now, a few pre-game notes to get you ready for tonight’s game…

  • These two teams will actually finish up their four-game season series tonight already. The B’s took the first two meetings in October, while Washington beat Boston 5-3 in their last head-to-head matchup, November 5th.
  • Last season, the Capitals ran away with the league lead in team scoring. This year, they haven’t fared nearly as well, especially during their current seven-game losing streak. The Caps have just nine goals during this streak. Washington is coming off a 2-1 overtime loss to Anaheim Wednesday night.
  • The Caps will be without forward Alexander Semin tonight, who will miss the game with a lower-body injury. Semin, not Ovechkin, leads the team with 18 goals this season.
  • While Semin (18G, 15A) does lead the team in goals, it is Alex Ovechkin that leads the way with 36 points (12G, 24A). However, Ovechkin has just two goals in his last 15 games. Also near the top of the Caps’ score sheet, center Nicklas Backstrom (11G, 23A).
  • Defenseman Mike Green, who has led all defenseman in points the past two seasons, has just one point in his last 11 games. For the year, he has a modest five-goal, nine-assist stat line.
  • In goal for Washington, Michal Neuvirth (12-5-2, 2.68GAA) has gotten the brunt of the workload so far this season, with youngster Semyon Varlamov (4-4-1, 2.54GAA) generally regarded as the team’s backup.
  • Judging by the team’s morning skate today, look for Tim Thomas to return to the crease for the Bruins this evening. Thomas is coming off his first set of consecutive losses all season, but still has an impressive 14-3-3 record with a league-leading 1.63GAA. Lifetime, Thomas is 12-4-2 against Washington.
  • Lastly, the little red light will be on tonight at the Garden for the HBO cameras, as the Capitals remain the focus of “24/7: Penguins-Capitals, Road to the NHL Winter Classic.” The four-part series debuting this past Wednesday night and will continue through the first week of January, showing behind-the-scenes, all-access footage of both the Caps and Penguins, up to and including their meeting on New Year’s Day, outside at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

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